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obscuredbyclouds

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Stay the Hell Away from Power Industry?
« on: Jul 05, 2016, 02:14 »
From what I've gathered on the web and threads on this site it appears that:


-Many of you working as ROs or in the power industry in general have become increasingly dissatisfied with your jobs.


-Being an RO is a difficult and time-consuming job.


-It is unlikely to land a job as an RO without commericial/navy experience when very few openings are available.


-ROs are underpaid given their skills and knowledge (but let's be real a 70-80k median salary in predominately low-cost areas is a goldmine for a youngin in 2016, so it's not the worst).


-The nuclear industry is in a shaking era. (Although I still have hope that people will start seeing the necessity of building more nuclear plants to reach our goals of generating consistent low-pollution power for an ever-increasing demand; have faith friends).


I'm pretty undecided about my eventual career path (as well as every aspect in life), which probably isn't the best given the position I'm in. I'll be completing my MS in Nuc Eng from A&M pretty soon (Physics undergrad from UCI), so I have to start making up my mind. I've always considered working at a reactor as a potential route, but the factors above have started to dissuade me. However, I'd still be looking for some positives about working in the field if anyone is willing to share. Otherwise, is it best for me to pursue a research oriented career doing computational physics in a national lab or something? How about the nuclear security industry - are there many options available there? How viable do you think it would be to land one of these jobs with just a Master's as apposed to a PhD? If not very probable, should I just sell out and work for Business/Tech companies? Also, are there other inudstries I'm not considering that I might be qualified for? I'm interested in and appreciate your feedback. Take care
« Last Edit: Jul 05, 2016, 02:18 by obscuredbyclouds »

Offline Rennhack

Re: Stay the Hell Away from Power Industry?
« Reply #1 on: Jul 05, 2016, 05:57 »
1. RO's are like everyone, it's called a job, not vacation.
2. Sure.  So is being a pre-school teacher.
3. You never know.  I've seen deconners and laborers get jobs as RO's.  But Navy experience certainly helps.
4. I disagree with the bullet on pay. I believe the pay is very good.
5. It is in a 'transition' period, so is Oil.  Both of which will have casualties (Stock: LINE). Thats how the power market is today.  Have you seen the price of a barrel of oil recently?  Now, brick and mortar book stores or block buster video ... that's not a good industry to be in.
6. A Masters is entry level at the National labs, but a PhD is preferred to advance. You could consider NOT being an operator, and become a "Nuclear Engineer" at a power plant (like a civil, mechanical, electrical engineer), the hours are better, and the pay is good.
7. Define nuclear security.  Cyber Security? Physical Security?  What does any of that have to do with your degree?
8. Getting a job, any kind of job, is not selling out, it's providing for your (future) family.
« Last Edit: Jul 05, 2016, 10:05 by Rennhack »

Offline hamsamich

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Re: Stay the Hell Away from Power Industry?
« Reply #2 on: Jul 05, 2016, 07:07 »
Yeah didn't quite understand the selling out thing.  Depends on how you look at things I guess.  Familiarity or maybe the spotlight on business/tech means taking a job there is selling out?  Funny, because when I was getting out of the Navy everyone was talking about how getting a job in commercial nuclear was"selling out".  I said "what"!  How is the money?  Alot of those same people that tried to make it in the non-nuclear world, quite a few ending up giving nuclear a try. Most stayed with it.

ski2313

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Re: Stay the Hell Away from Power Industry?
« Reply #3 on: Jul 06, 2016, 07:34 »
The RO's I work with make double the figures you quoted above in any given year, with "normal" overtime (outage, etc). The non licensed guys average 115k-135k..Just a data point.


Offline ddickey

Re: Stay the Hell Away from Power Industry?
« Reply #4 on: Jul 06, 2016, 08:30 »
With outages and OT an RO should make $150k minimum I would think.
ILT candidates are chosen purely based on seniority from the NLO's.
We had one Navy and one Marine in my new NLO class of eleven.
Agree w/the increasingly dissatisfied. I'm not an RO but see it and hear it.
« Last Edit: Jul 06, 2016, 01:09 by ddickey »

Offline GLW

Re: Stay the Hell Away from Power Industry?
« Reply #5 on: Jul 06, 2016, 09:37 »

With outages and OT an RO should make $150k minimum I would think.
ILT candidates are chosen purely based on seniority from the NLO's.
We had one Navy and one Marine in my new NLO class of eleven.
Agree w/the increasingly dissatisfied. I'm not an RO but see it and here it.


I hear you, now let's walk this back a bit and look out at the bigger "realsville",...
 
 Technical degrees are the new high school diploma,...
 
 Many, if not most, recent Navy enlisted personnel have those degrees in their hands,...
 
 150K per year is about three times the median and twice the average US household income,...
 
 the median is the stronger indicator because the average reflects the notion that the vast majority of modern households are two income households,...
 
 the average also includes those really stratospheric incomes garnered by folks of both ethical and not so ethical persuasions,...
 
 so,...
 
 with the equivalent of the 1970's era high school diploma a single wage earner can comfortably support a family of four, five or even six,...
 
 while reaping the benefits of a stay at home spouse, those benefits being significant and easily surpassing a 40 to 50 thousand dollar per year equivalency if those benefits were paid out of pocket from after tax earnings,...
 
 all at a time when median income in the USA has been going down for the last several years of our "new economy",...
 
 all with as much job security as just about anybody can hope for these days in the "new economy",...
 
 in the "new economy" of the last half dozen years or so there are a lot of dissatisfied people,...
 
 there's been a lot of change and, unless you are a government worker, it's been less than good for the greater majority,...
 
 I would suggest the prospective RO look for happiness and satisfaction outside the gate and fences, and just look at being an RO as a job,...
 
 and a pretty good job, all things considered,...
 
 to the OP:
 
 your degree(s) still counts as a "degree",...
 
 should you be able to land a position as an RO (or NLO, or Engineer, etcetera) in commercial power you will have to work hard to earn your wage,...
 
 with some due diligence on your part you will know ahead of time what will be expected to earn that wage,...
 
 you have already narrowed your focus by acquiring a specialized degree ( Nuc Eng) as opposed to the jack of all trades Mechanical or Electrical disciplines,...
 
 at the same time, if you're capable of successfully earning your MS you should be capable of performing well in any math heavy line of work,...
 
 the national labs (KAPL, etcetera) can find a place for you, provided you can acquire security clearance and understand the path to lucrative employment at these labs is longer and has it's own pitfalls and politics,...
 
 other avenues such as Bettis, AREVA, etcetera, will be interested in your MS in Nuc Eng, again, the pathway to lucrative wages is longer and complicated at times,...
 
 if you want good money and a rigid structure for earning it, then commercial power can work well for you,...
 
 if you want an interesting "what are we gonna do today?" work environment, then labs, and similar employment can work for you,...
 
 if you want good money and a free spirited "what are we gonna do today?" work environment, then it's probably not gonna happen before 2030 on the typical earnings timeline with your foundation,...
 
 but, I only said probably,...

 
« Last Edit: Jul 06, 2016, 09:39 by GLW »

been there, dun that,... the doormat to hell does not read "welcome", the doormat to hell reads "it's just business"

obscuredbyclouds

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Re: Stay the Hell Away from Power Industry?
« Reply #6 on: Jul 06, 2016, 11:14 »
1. RO's are like everyone, it's called a job, not vacation.
2. Sure.  So is being a pre-school teacher.
3. You never know.  I've seen deconners and laborers get jobs as RO's.  But Navy experience certainly helps.
4. I disagree with the bullet on pay. I believe the pay is very good.
5. It is in a 'transition' period, so is Oil.  Both of which will have casualties (Stock: LINE). Thats how the power market is today.  Have you seen the price of a barrel of oil recently?  Now, brick and mortar book stores or block buster video ... that's not a good industry to be in.
6. A Masters is entry level at the National labs, but a PhD is preferred to advance. You could consider NOT being an operator, and become a "Nuclear Engineer" at a power plant (like a civil, mechanical, electrical engineer), the hours are better, and the pay is good.
7. Define nuclear security.  Cyber Security? Physical Security?  What does any of that have to do with your degree?
8. Getting a job, any kind of job, is not selling out, it's providing for your (future) family.


1 & 2. I guess you'll get a spectrum with different levels of satisfaction for any job. I was just really surprised after looking at a few threads here how frustrated many ROs were. Then again, people love to rant on the internet. It seems that he most prominent complaints were the long hours and the position lacking a high level of autonomy due to regulations. 10 hour days are nothing unique to this industry, however.
3. So without much hands-on experience (except operating a small research reactor at my school a couple times), what would be some steps to take to demonstrate competency as an operator? I suppose I could look into internships at this reactor, but currently I have research obligations. Maybe after graduation I'd have time to find one. Do commercial reactors offer many internships to new grads?
4. Okay that figure was provided by a quick search for median nuclear reactor operator salary. Even $80k would make me happy; it looks like that is a low-ball estimate though. I'm not sure why anyone would have trouble maintaining their budget with +$80k. For the first time in my life I made about $2k a month and I felt like Bill Gates.
5. Yeah, maybe not quite so soon, but eventually fossil fuel reserves are going to deplete and their prices won't be competitive for too long. That leaves nuclear as the only non-intermittent energy source available.
6. I'd say my background fits lab research more closely. Although I am in the Power Engineering specialization, my research is computational based, so it's kind of funny. With a physics undergrad, I am better with theory. I don't have a strong design background, so I don't really know if I would be competitive with other engineers who are really good at making/designing stuff. Is there a role for theory based/computational skills as a Nuclear Engineer for an energy company (without plans to construct new reactors)?
7. I don't know very much but - designing radiation detectors, algorithms to track fuel/waste distribution and minimize proliferation risk, planning how to minimize doses in the event of an emergency. I currently do not do any of this work, I work for the computational methods department.
8. My lame attempt at a joke. You just have a bit of hope that when pursuing degrees like this, you can stay on the sciency side, but honestly I don't have a problem with doing this - there is nothing wrong with doing whatever it takes to provide for your family.


Thanks for your response

Offline GLW

Re: Stay the Hell Away from Power Industry?
« Reply #7 on: Jul 06, 2016, 12:08 »

1 & 2........


every question you posit has been answered numerous times throughout these forums and threads here @ nukeworker.com,...

you got the M.S. N.E.,...

do your research and enjoy the day,... 8)

been there, dun that,... the doormat to hell does not read "welcome", the doormat to hell reads "it's just business"

obscuredbyclouds

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Re: Stay the Hell Away from Power Industry?
« Reply #8 on: Jul 06, 2016, 12:27 »


I hear you, now let's walk this back a bit and look out at the bigger "realsville",...
 
 Technical degrees are the new high school diploma,...
 
 Many, if not most, recent Navy enlisted personnel have those degrees in their hands,...
 
 150K per year is about three times the median and twice the average US household income,...
 
 the median is the stronger indicator because the average reflects the notion that the vast majority of modern households are two income households,...
 
 the average also includes those really stratospheric incomes garnered by folks of both ethical and not so ethical persuasions,...
 
 so,...
 
 with the equivalent of the 1970's era high school diploma a single wage earner can comfortably support a family of four, five or even six,...
 
 while reaping the benefits of a stay at home spouse, those benefits being significant and easily surpassing a 40 to 50 thousand dollar per year equivalency if those benefits were paid out of pocket from after tax earnings,...
 
 all at a time when median income in the USA has been going down for the last several years of our "new economy",...
 
 all with as much job security as just about anybody can hope for these days in the "new economy",...
 
 in the "new economy" of the last half dozen years or so there are a lot of dissatisfied people,...
 
 there's been a lot of change and, unless you are a government worker, it's been less than good for the greater majority,...
 
 I would suggest the prospective RO look for happiness and satisfaction outside the gate and fences, and just look at being an RO as a job,...
 
 and a pretty good job, all things considered,...
 
 to the OP:
 
 your degree(s) still counts as a "degree",...
 
 should you be able to land a position as an RO (or NLO, or Engineer, etcetera) in commercial power you will have to work hard to earn your wage,...
 
 with some due diligence on your part you will know ahead of time what will be expected to earn that wage,...
 
 you have already narrowed your focus by acquiring a specialized degree ( Nuc Eng) as opposed to the jack of all trades Mechanical or Electrical disciplines,...
 
 at the same time, if you're capable of successfully earning your MS you should be capable of performing well in any math heavy line of work,...
 
 the national labs (KAPL, etcetera) can find a place for you, provided you can acquire security clearance and understand the path to lucrative employment at these labs is longer and has it's own pitfalls and politics,...
 
 other avenues such as Bettis, AREVA, etcetera, will be interested in your MS in Nuc Eng, again, the pathway to lucrative wages is longer and complicated at times,...
 
 if you want good money and a rigid structure for earning it, then commercial power can work well for you,...
 
 if you want an interesting "what are we gonna do today?" work environment, then labs, and similar employment can work for you,...
 
 if you want good money and a free spirited "what are we gonna do today?" work environment, then it's probably not gonna happen before 2030 on the typical earnings timeline with your foundation,...
 
 but, I only said probably,...



I've never looked at a career as some magical enjoyable journey. I may have given off that impression, but I'm usually the type to get leery-eyed at those who say "You gotta do what you LOVE." Hell, I could probably do something I almost hate if it pays well. I'm capable of working hard - at one point I had 3 part time jobs during my undergrad, so I'm not looking at an easy way out. The hours do worry me a bit, because I do want to have a family at some point and spend quality time with my kids. But, as I mentioned, long hours are nothing unique to this industry. The research side seems to be a little bit easier in terms of work schedule, but maybe lacks some of the security. When you say the path to lucrative employment is longer, it seems like lab research is a little bit like academia in that regard. I'd expect you start with some internships, and eventually prove your way with some research under your belt, and then land a secure position. Once you get hired as an NLO, you more or less have a secure job and work your way up with experience. Is that about right? Would I qualify as an NLO without much experience? I've briefly operated a small research reactor a couple times, have performed various radiation detection experiments, and of course would be able to demonstrate a solid understanding of nuclear science, but that's about it. I've seen a lot of threads with some recent grads having trouble finding a job due to this lack of hands-on experience.

Offline ddickey

Re: Stay the Hell Away from Power Industry?
« Reply #9 on: Jul 06, 2016, 01:13 »
Yes you would qualify. NLO is an entry level job.

Offline hamsamich

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Re: Stay the Hell Away from Power Industry?
« Reply #10 on: Jul 06, 2016, 05:55 »
I don't think you should worry so much, you should be fine for hiring managers who are degree heavy with hiring.  Think about this though...if you do go work somewhere for along time and don't want to move anywhere else;  you may want to find out the best job for the money and time off.  For instance it sucks being an SRO at some plants so alot of those guys stay at RO and make more money than the SROs overall... And many plants are using engineers to do all kinds of supervisory BS they never had to do before (containment coordinator, training supervisor), especially during outages and the worst deals are some of them are working OT at straight time rates with the first 5 hours of "professional" time unpaid.  So be careful and find out the deal if you really want to work in one place!  Sometimes the only way to move on is up or out, and those options might not be the greatest.  There is alot of that info on here and other places....

Offline GLW

Re: Stay the Hell Away from Power Industry?
« Reply #11 on: Jul 06, 2016, 06:14 »
I don't think you should worry so much, you should be fine for hiring managers who are degree heavy with hiring.  Think about this though...if you do go work somewhere for along time and don't want to move anywhere else;  you may want to find out the best job for the money and time off.  For instance it sucks being an SRO at some plants so alot of those guys stay at RO and make more money than the SROs overall... And many plants are using engineers to do all kinds of supervisory BS they never had to do before (containment coordinator, training supervisor), especially during outages and the worst deals are some of them are working OT at straight time rates with the first 5 hours of "professional" time unpaid.  So be careful and find out the deal if you really want to work in one place!  Sometimes the only way to move on is up or out, and those options might not be the greatest.  There is alot of that info on here and other places....

with a shrinking number of commercial nuke plants these conditions of employment are easier for the bean counters to implement, particularly with regards to employees not covered by a collective bargaining agreement,...

my thoughts to the OP,...

NEVER go to a job interview for operations or engineering and indicate you do not intend to achieve higher and more responsible positions as you gain experience and seniority,...

life does what it will, interviewers want to assess that you expect to continuously grow within the company,...

keep your as yet undeveloped "quality of life" aspirations close to the vest because things change, do not deal yourself a losing hand during your first sit down at the employment table,...

been there, dun that,... the doormat to hell does not read "welcome", the doormat to hell reads "it's just business"

Offline SloGlo

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Re: Stay the Hell Away from Power Industry?
« Reply #12 on: Jul 06, 2016, 10:03 »
sew... wattcha thing of the interview processes? dee ya like the examination of coarse load or the queries of ware yew want too bee inn ate years?
wood ya rather run things oar go two meetings four watt mite bee actually considered as a project in a cupla years?
due yue like too park up front oar the back of the hierarchy's lot?
only you no what you should do, so just do it. reanalyze after three years, change if ya wanna.
quando omni flunkus moritati

dubble eye, dubble yew, dubble aye!

dew the best ya kin, wit watt ya have, ware yinze are!

Offline Rennhack

Re: Stay the Hell Away from Power Industry?
« Reply #13 on: Jul 06, 2016, 10:21 »
every question you posit has been answered numerous times throughout these forums and threads here @ nukeworker.com,...
do your research and enjoy the day,... 8)

He did his research, for each point, he said what he read here, in our forum.  It was a great way to start a conversation.  He said "I read this in the forum, did I understand that correctly?"  I wish all posters did what he did.

Offline hamsamich

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Re: Stay the Hell Away from Power Industry?
« Reply #14 on: Jul 07, 2016, 01:30 »
yep, that is really good advice from glw.  my advice is second to glw.  if just getting a job in nuke is what you are after, forget about my advice.  the only way to find out some of that stuff is to do it in semi-secret.  just keep it in mind.

Offline Marlin

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Re: Stay the Hell Away from Power Industry?
« Reply #15 on: Jul 07, 2016, 08:16 »
 8)

I've never looked at a career as some magical enjoyable journey. I may have given off that impression, but I'm usually the type to get leery-eyed at those who say "You gotta do what you LOVE." Hell, I could probably do something I almost hate if it pays well.


https://www.prageru.com/courses/life-studies/dont-follow-your-passion

Offline Red Gold

Re: Stay the Hell Away from Power Industry?
« Reply #16 on: Jul 08, 2016, 03:16 »
OP, here's my advice, short and sweet: look for work as a non-licensed operator (variously described as NLO, AO, EO and a couple others). The RO position you keep referring to is typically not entry level, usually requiring some time served on the sharp end of commercial nuclear power first. Non-licensed operators are the folks who probably have the most flexibility when it comes to going other places in nuclear after they've put in a few (well-compensated) years doing rounds and performing evolutions in the plant. Good luck!

Edit - Oh, and commercial nuclear power pays rather more than the other suggestions you gave, and if you pick the right plants / employesr / areas to apply to, concerns about whether the plant will shut down are way less applicable to you.
« Last Edit: Jul 08, 2016, 03:17 by Red Gold »

Offline Rerun

Re: Stay the Hell Away from Power Industry?
« Reply #17 on: Jul 08, 2016, 06:06 »
Huh actually no the most mobile careerwise is an SRO. I can find good NLOs anywhere

Offline Red Gold

Re: Stay the Hell Away from Power Industry?
« Reply #18 on: Jul 10, 2016, 03:14 »
Sure, but he probably won't be hiring in as a direct with that background.

Offline Rerun

Re: Stay the Hell Away from Power Industry?
« Reply #19 on: Jul 10, 2016, 04:16 »
You stated NLOs have flexibility. In fact they have very little

Offline Red Gold

Re: Stay the Hell Away from Power Industry?
« Reply #20 on: Jul 12, 2016, 08:55 »
This seems at odds with my experience and the experience of a large number of people of my acquaintance. I fully accept that SROs are the most flexible, but, in general, one of the best ways to become one is to start as an NLO. And there are many other options open to NLOs with the right educational background and talents in the current industry, again in my experience and the experience of many people I've met. Perhaps things were different at the utilities you worked for.
« Last Edit: Jul 12, 2016, 08:59 by Red Gold »

Offline ddickey

Re: Stay the Hell Away from Power Industry?
« Reply #21 on: Jul 13, 2016, 07:22 »
This seems at odds with my experience and the experience of a large number of people of my acquaintance. I fully accept that SROs are the most flexible, but, in general, one of the best ways to become one is to start as an NLO. And there are many other options open to NLOs with the right educational background and talents in the current industry, again in my experience and the experience of many people I've met. Perhaps things were different at the utilities you worked for.
What are those options?

Offline hamsamich

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Re: Stay the Hell Away from Power Industry?
« Reply #22 on: Jul 13, 2016, 01:43 »
Places i've worked NLOs had all kinds of options depending on their background and experience level.  alot of NLOs were ex-navy and had alot of experience in their background so they could do all kinds of different things ranging from QA to chemistry.  I put in for chemistry within the company as an NLo and was interviewed but they wanted someone with commercial experience.   ops tried to hang on to SROs because they were so hard to come by.  Many of the SROs I knew had to move out of the company to do what they wanted to do because Ops didn't want to let them go.  One SRO really wanted to go to maintenance but Ops wouldn't let him go.  Most of them accepted their lot in life or quit the company if they really wanted to do something else.  NLOs went to planning, training, maintenance, one went to a hydro station within the company, I&C, work control center, rp.  They were always moving out of ops we had to keep hiring more.  And plenty went on to be ROs and SROs.  Eventually SROs could do stuff like Maintenance Manager and Manage other departments but that was more for guys who were on the fast track to management or had been assistant ops manager or ops manager.  SROs normally went to work control and training mostly for rotational assignments, but ops had a hard time letting them go anywhere else.  There were always exceptions.

when you are an NLO ops doesn't have their claws dug into you as deep as if you are an SRO.  you are much more qualified as an SRO but also much more valuable to ops.  I'm sure some places are different and they have more SROs  so maybe more willing to part with one.  your options depend on your qualifications, ops willingness to let you go, company policy, department hiring managers requirements, the good old boy network, union requirements.

Offline Rerun

Re: Stay the Hell Away from Power Industry?
« Reply #23 on: Jul 13, 2016, 01:44 »
No its a plain fact.

Offline Rerun

Re: Stay the Hell Away from Power Industry?
« Reply #24 on: Jul 13, 2016, 01:46 »
His exact quote:

Non-licensed operators are the folks who probably have the most flexibility when it comes to going other places in nuclear after they've put in a few (well-compensated) years doing rounds and performing evolutions in the plant. Good luck!

 


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